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Thursday, 20 October 2011

One Day to Go

President Sarkozy missed the birth of his daughter yesterday in order to try again to persuade Chancellor Merkel to release German wealth to support something close to the present situation in the eurozone. All the signs are that he has failed: though Mrs Merkel again said that they would reach an agreement by Friday evening; which is likely to mean that the French will have to accept something close to the German position.

Meanwhile the streets of Greek cities have been defaced by increasingly violent protests against the relatively low-key measures that the Greek government has so far announced to meet some of the demands that have been made by their partners as the price of subsidising them. Many Greeks have already experienced real hardship, and the idea that the worst they have experienced is just a first tranche of the misery to come is infuriating.

Germans who read about it in the papers or watch the television pictures of the Greek riots could well feel that the Greek situation is irresolvable on the terms that have been offered by the eurozone countries, and that a more draconian solution - Greek default on their debts, probably accompanied by their withdrawal from the euro - is the only available resort.So the Germans' position could well harden against any thought of compromise.

The French and the Germans have promised to bring proposals for consideration by the other EU Finance Ministers [not just the eurozone seventeen] this weekend. The portents as to what they will agree upon are doom-laden; which scares the US Administration and has caused the Chinese to make it clear that they would be unwilling to contribute to any bail-out in Europe in the absence of some credible comprehensive provision [with the implication that China's Sovereign Wealth Fund would buy EU bonds if the context had been stabilised]. The overwhelming probability is that there will be a blatant fudge, followed by panic-as-usual. The medium-term outlook is stormy.

In the distant background to the Grand Continental Eurodrama is a delightful vignette of the fundamental rottenness of British politics. The 2010 intake of Conservative MPs are predominantly 'Eurosceptic' to various degrees, meaning that a majority of the Parliamentary Conservative Party is now of that mindset. They have used some of the Commons timetable that is allocated for Members' own motions [as distinct from Government time and time granted for formal Opposition motions] to propose that there should be a Referendum in the UK offering people various options. First, do they want Britain to stay in the EU, or to leave it? Second, should there not be a total breach with the EU, would they want Britain to be able to re-negotiate its relationship with the EU, including the repatriation of significant powers that have been ceded to
or arrogated by EU institutions? Both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have in the past indicated that they favour renegotiation; but in the Coalition agreement the Tories were committed to keep the issue off the agenda because their Lib-Dem partners are abjectly pro-EU. The vote has been brought forward to Monday so that the Prime Minister can quell the 'revolt' himself before he flies off to Perth [Western Australia] for the Commonwealth Summit Meeting. If he succeeds in whipping the great majority of the Tories into betrayal of a strong and often fervently-held position the shredded credibility of the political class will be further damaged; and Cameron's chances of winning a majority of seats in the next General Election will recede even further.

The Lib-Dems' treachery on student fees, and the Tories' betrayal of their Eurosceptic rhetoric will not be forgotten: and so the puerile Labour Party could form a government by default, in or before 2015. So much for integrity. 'Democracy' entails no integrity. Millions will see their options as lying between support for minority parties or abstention - staying away from the poll.

The next election will, however, be the occasion when millions of voters  could bestir themselves to go to their Polling Stations, get their ballot forms and mark them with bold writing 'NONE OF THESE'. If the 'spoilt' forms represent an overall majority of all the votes cast, the knell of the stinking corpse will at last be sounded.

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